Review of Aladdin - Georgian Theatre Royal - Richmond
By Andrew Harrison - Arts critic
Pantomime in Richmond is anything but traditional, they take panto and using traditional elements create something fresh in their own unique style. Writer, Gary Bridgens, has transported Aladdin from the usual setting to create a more local feel. Twanky’s laundry is in Richmond, close to the theatre where they specialise in cleaning costumes. The cave becomes a lock up in Darlington, which interestingly contains many props and costumes from pantomimes at Richmond over the past 10 years.
Nick O’Connor as Abanazar is truly magnificent, this has to be his best performance to date, he appears so at ease in the role as a despondent baddie, he manages to create a character which is both likeable, but you just can’t wait to boo and hiss his every entrance. Quinn Richards as Aladdin has good chemistry with his love interest, the feisty Jazz Dillydally, Emily Arnfield, as the debt collector’s daughter. Alex Moran plays both Squire Dillydally and The Genie. Gary Bridgens produces a masterstroke as he turns The Genie into Freddie Mercury, he clearly wants to ‘break free.’ There follows a string of Queen references and songs all done to perfection. Gary Bridgens, sadly, dons the Dame’s costumes for the final time. He superbly connects with the audience with his cheeky and friendly style. Everything from his voice, stature and mannerisms make him stand out from any other Dame I have seen. He is also the master of improvisation, especially when working with members of the audience on stage. The Young Company bring another level of energy to proceedings and are fully integrated having many of the best comedy lines.
It would not be a Richmond panto if we were not involved with defeating the villain, as we throw knitted lightbulbs onto the stage.
Richmond certainly know how to do panto differently and this is most definitely their best yet.